Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner, one of three being hailed as heroes for intervening in a gunman’s attack on Republican congressmen at a baseball practice Wednesday, is a former college basketball star who is married to a woman.
Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera, all Capitol Police special agents, “immediately returned fire” after James T. Hodgkinson began shooting at congressmen gathered for the practice at a park in Alexandria, Va., CBS News reports. Because U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is a member of the Republican leadership, he is always accompanied by officers from the Capitol Police. Scalise, who is House majority whip, was severely wounded in the attack.
Congressmen said the officers’ presence and their actions were key to stopping the attack. “I know as sure as I’m standing here right now that there's no way we would have lived through that,” U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop of Michigan told CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.
One of the three shot and killed Hodgkinson. Capitol Police officials did not say who fired the fatal shot, but U.S. Rep Jeff Flake of Arizona said it was Griner, who kept firing even though she had already been hit, the New York Daily News reports.
Both Griner and Bailey were wounded in the attack, as were several other people, including a congressional staffer. Bailey was treated at a hospital and released, but Griner was admitted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center with a gunshot wound to her ankle.
And there, she and her wife, Tiffany Dyar, received a visit and flowers from Donald and Melania Trump, according to a White House press pool report. The Trumps looked in on her Wednesday after visiting Scalise, who remains in critical condition today. Griner and Dyar married in 2015 in Baltimore. Flake visited Griner and fellow officer Bailey as well, the Daily News reports, and “thanked them for saving my life.”
Griner was an accomplished basketball player at Hood College in Maryland; she graduated in 2006. It’s unclear if she’s related to WNBA star Brittney Griner.
She and her colleagues are receiving much praise for their actions at the shooting site. “She is amazing, and she’s a hero,” retired Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told CBS of Griner. “She epitomized what being a hero’s all about.”
Vice President Mike Pence also lauded Griner. Today he tweeted, “The courageous actions of Officer Crystal Griner, and that of Officer David Bailey, saved lives and prevented an even greater tragedy.”
The courageous actions of Officer Crystal Griner, and that of Officer David Bailey, saved lives and prevented an even greater tragedy. pic.twitter.com/7RiSQTDL4E
— Vice President Pence (@VP) June 15, 2017
His tweet prompted this response, with a reference to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he signed into law as governor of Indiana in 2015 — a law that, before it was amended, would have given business owners legal cover to discriminate against LGBT people and others who offend their religious beliefs.
"Let's celebrate Crystal by taking away her freedoms and allow others to discriminate against her and call it RFRA!" #MAGA
— Brian McKeon (@BrianMcKeon5) June 15, 2017